Lessons learned from implementing a community pharmacy medication management service

Authors conclude that community pharmacies are capable of providing medication management integrated with care management

Research shows that although community pharmacies are capable of providing medication management for high-risk patients integrated with care management, initiating new services in the current workflow landscape can be challenging.

Community pharmacists serve a vital role in the health care system by regularly assessing and monitoring patients’ medication-related needs. Community pharmacists offer patients accessibility given that most patients live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy and visit their community pharmacy an average of 35 times per year. While patients benefit from community pharmacists who provide nondispensing services such as medication management, implementation of these programs can be challenging. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill initiated a statewide medication management service within an integrated care management program at 123 community and community health center pharmacies in North Carolina and monitored the results during the first 3 months of the program.  

In the study, published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the researchers found that 41% of the pharmacies consistently documented the medication management services within the first 3 months. Interviews were conducted with 73 pharmacists from the pharmacies with inconsistent documentation to drive program improvements. The majority of these pharmacists reported that challenges in initiating and documenting services were due to increased intensity of service and documentation compared with Medicare Part D requirements. Program changes to improve participation were then made, including revision of documentation requirements, authorization of technicians to transcribe pharmacists’ interventions, additional documentation templates, workflow consultations, and feedback on documentation quality.

The study authors conclude that community pharmacies are capable of providing medication management integrated with care management. To facilitate implementation, it’s important to minimize administrative burden and provide mechanisms for direct feedback.